UK Governments Affect on Immigration & Science

Last week, the majority of the nation chose David Cameron to be the Prime Minister, this week there is no doubt that people are wondering how the new UK Government will affect them, in particular migrants from Europe and outside of Europe.  Sarah Kendrew, an Astronomer from the University of Oxford spoke out about the risks that science programmes in the UK face as a result of the Tories immigration policies.

How will the Immigration Policies Affect UK Science?

Although the Conservative party have pledged to continue their support for science, they have yet to show this. Firstly, the level of science spending in the UK is below 0.5% Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Making the countries’ investment in science lower than any other country amongst the G8 nations. Already risking the UK’s position in scientific research and innovation.

Secondly, due to the current science budget UK scientists are heavily reliant on other sources of funding such as sources from outside the UK. The European Research Council (ERC) is found to be one of the UK’s biggest investors when it comes to scientific research. In 2007 the ERC invested more than £5bn, supporting scientists at all stages of their post- PhD careers. Despite this the Conservative party is planning a number of reforms to regain control of EU migration. Furthermore, David Cameron has stated that if other members of the EU are not happy with the UK’s policies he will have no problem exiting the EU. If this was to happen the science programmes in the UK would likely lose its’ biggest source of funds.

Thirdly, the Conservatives determination to cut migration will also affect UK science. With the drive to cut migration and plans to toughen Immigration Rules the UK could deter international talent. The number of international students choosing the UK to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). For instance, the number of international STEM students in the UK declined by 8% in 2011/12 and a further 2% in 2012/13. Not only will this decline affect Universities but it has proven to affect UK businesses that have argued that due to the lack of skills they are having trouble filling vacancies.

Immigration Brings Real Benefits to Britain

It is yet to be seen what the next five years will bring, but at the moment it seems that the new/current UK Government has a long way to go to satisfy the UK public, businesses and international talent. As the Conservatives have stated in their manifesto:

“Conservatives believe in controlled immigration, not mass immigration. Immigration brings real benefits to Britain – to our economy, our culture and our national life. We will always be a party that is open, outwardlooking and welcoming to people from all around the world. We also know that immigration must be controlled.”

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